October is Bullying Prevention Month. Schools across the nation are probably instituting programs to combat bullying, and I applaud them for their efforts. However, the best resources to combat bullying may be right under their noses without the schools even realizing it: the school library and school librarian. Here are some ways that school librarians help prevent bullying.
School librarians have a unique position in schools. We impact more lives than any other person in the school. What other teacher sees all the kids and has a relationship with them that isn’t based on their academic or physical achievement? How many of your favorite kids are the ones that drive everyone else crazy? I heard a speaker talk about Velcro-children, and I know we’ve all had them–those kids that stick to you because they know that you love them.
School librarians offer a safe place for all students. For those kids who don’t feel comfortable in the cafeteria, the library is the safe place. For kids who are exploring their sexuality, the library has books with characters that are dealing with the same issues. For children who are experiencing abuse, there are books with characters who overcome those horrible circumstances. We are the safe place because we don’t judge children.
School librarians also know the right books to share. The Washington Post outlined a list of books that teach kindness from preschool through high school. It’s not surprise that many of these books are award-winning books from the American Library Association chosen by librarians.
School librarians may have the reputation of being meek and mild, but we know that stereotype just doesn’t fit. We are fighters for all kids. We fight for their right to information and provide the place that has technology for every child. We stand up to bullies who try to push their beliefs on all children when they censor books.
School librarians have the luxury of reaching every child in the school. We can identify those who need a little extra care when he or she is in the library. We can identify both the bullied and the bully and find ways to help both. Studies have correlated reading fiction and empathy, and what better way to prevent bullying is there than to be empathetic?
Every day, in school libraries around the nation, children find a loving, accepting, and tolerant space. They find librarians who are there for only one reason and that reason is to help their students find the information they need to become better citizens. Those children can be assured that their librarian and their libraries are places where they are safe to explore, to wonder, and to dream. I can’t think of a better place to fight bullying behavior than in the library.